Ganges Barrage construction is about to begin in December 2012.

The construction of the long-awaited Ganges Barrage is about to begin in Rajbari district in December 2012 to preserve the river water during monsoon and release it during lean period.

Water Resource Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen told journalists yesterday that the barrage will facilitate irrigation of about 19 lakh hectares of land in greater Kushtia, Faridpur, Jessore, Khulna, Barisal, Pabna and Rajshahi districts,

The government in 1972 took the initiative to construct Ganges Barrage. This ambitious project will also allow construction of a 118 to 160 megawatt hydro power plant at the site.

After the implementation of the barrage people of 19 districts will be directly benefited .

The construction of the barrage may take 2-3 years to construct the main barrage, and 10-12 years to complete the project at an estimated cost of Tk 12,000 crore.

“This barrage will retain surface water. This will help replenish the sub-soil water which we are extracting in a way that is sure to cause desertification,” the minister said.

The feasibility study that began last year is progressing ahead of the schedule. The consultant assigned to do the job has completed 37 percent of the task till now instead of 33 percent as per schedule.

According to the minister after the construction of the barrage,water will flow through the now dead Gorai River.

Due to the construction of Farakka barrage by India in the sixties, the  barrage badly affected Bangladesh’s agriculture, fisheries, forest resources and river transportation, and the rivers also started losing navigability.

The present government revived the initiative last year by awarding a contract to an international consultant– DDC and Associates Ltd– to conduct a feasibility study of the project at a cost of Tk 34 crore.

The government will invite tender for construction of the barrage in April 2012 and the prime minister is expected to inaugurate construction work in December the same year.

Experts say implementation of this project will greatly help ensure environmental balance and preserve forest and biodiversity of the salinity-affected Sundarbans.

After the construction of the barrage it will help restore navigability of the southern rivers fed by the Ganges system, and preserve sweet water fish resources.

Workshops with experts and people concerned with environmental issues will be considered in this matter

The government is also optimistic of signing Teesta water-sharing treaty with India by June next year.

Among others, state Minister for Water Resources Mahbubur Rahman Khokon and high officials were present at the briefing.

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